During Sunday night’s debate, Donald Trump attempted to shrug off accusations of sexual assault and sexually inappropriate language by saying that it was simply “locker room talk,” nothing more. In the wake of a 2005 video that revealed appalling language and implications, denigrating women and demonstrating his overall values, Trump attempted to make it sound as if this was normal behavior.
The problem is, this kind of language IS fairly standard fare amongst men. This kind of culture that doesn’t respect women and uses vulgar language IS too popular in our society. Don’t believe me? Check out Total Frat Move. It’s a website that is meant for men in fraternities. Their articles are insulting. Their photos of “girls of the day” are objectifying. Their conversation regarding women is unacceptable. They are, of course, not the only example of this kind of language and material. The internet is full of similar pages and ideas. But, if our young men in college are learning that this is how we treat women, it is no wonder that we are seeing it reflected in other places in society.
It is all too likely that Trump is right, that his words are commonplace in the mouths of American men. But that doesn’t make it acceptable, and it doesn’t make it right. As a man, I not only stand up against his language, but also the “locker room talk” that he thinks makes it acceptable. If that is the image that he wants to present of the “normal” American male, than we, as men, need to stand up and say that this is not who we want to be, not how we want to treat our peers, our friends, and our partners.
This means that we, as men, need to be willing to call out the language we hear that isn’t appropriate. We need to tell one another what we expect, and we need to hold ourselves accountable. Our language needs to match our actions, and our actions need to be representing the best of ourselves, not the Trumps in our society.
What Trump said was inappropriate and unacceptable. His excuse for it was just as troubling, and we, as Americans, have an obligation to prove him wrong with the way we talk, the way we think, and the way we treat one another.